Russian bill would fine 'gay propaganda'


Gay rights activists take part in an anti-Putin rally in the central Arbat area in Moscow, on March 10, 2012. The partly seen makeshift poster (R) criticizes some "Russia's homophobic laws."



Russian lawmakers submitted a piece of legislation on Thursday that would impose fines for spreading gay "propaganda" to minors, according to Reuters.

The bill is similar to local laws recently adopted in cities like St. Petersburg and has drawn protests from human rights and gay activists. It will be a test of tolerance in the Kremlin-controlled parliament ahead of Vladimir Putin being inaugurated as president.

The bill would impose finest of up to 5,000 rubles ($170) on individuals, and up to $17,000 on companies found guilty of spreading "propaganda of homosexualism" among minors, said Reuters.

Critics noted that the broad wording of the law could be used to ban gay rights demonstrations and crack down on the gay community.

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The Associated Press said the legislation was submitted by lawmakers from the central Novosibirsk region who blamed the media for portraying gay lifestyles as "normal behavior."

Homosexuality was decriminalized in the country in 1993, but prejudice remains strong.

Last week, pop singer Madonna attracted controversy when she said she would speak out against the earlier law passed in St. Petersburg. On her Facebook, she said, "I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed."

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The author of the St. Petersburg version of the law called for Madonna to be charged under the law if she does speak out about it, while gay rights activists planned to picket her concert in August because they felt Madonna was cashing in on their struggle, according to ABC News.

Nikolai Aleksev, the head of the LGBT group Gay Russia, wrote, "The law will stay in force, Madonna will leave and the Russian LGBT-community will be humiliated even more."

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